CHICAGO — On Jan. 6, Shameless Pets announced a distribution deal with Target, three new dog treat products and its participation in a program to develop new opportunities for upcycling food ingredients spearheaded by Dutch financial firm Rabobank.

The dog treat startup formulates its products with “ugly produce,” or upcycled fruits and vegetables that would otherwise become food processing waste. It was co-founded in 2017 by James Bello, a former corporate buyer at Target, and Alex Waite, a food scientist, with the goal of reducing food waste.

“With ‘ugly’ produce that would have otherwise been wasted providing unique flavor profiles and additional nutrition to our recipes, our new products are a win-win for our canine pals and for the planet,” Bello commented.

Shameless Pets’ three new treat products are all soft-baked, grain-free and all-natural and boast functional benefits. According to the company, its new Bananas for Bacon option helps with skin and coat health; Cluckin’ Carrots includes carrots and parsley to improve breath; and Duck Duck Beet contains beet to support digestive health.

Co-founders James Bello (left) and Alex Waite pose with three new dog treat products, all made with upcycled fruits and vegetables.

The startup launched a partnership with Target to carry its three new dog treat formulas at retail stores across the US, starting Jan. 6.

“We’re excited about the exposure this launch will bring to our mission of reducing the 63 million tons of food wasted annually in the US, and to fuel dogs with nutritious treats created through upcycling,” Bello said. “The best part of our job is working with food processors, manufacturers and farmers to secure discarded ingredients that we can use to develop exciting flavors and healthy products for pups everywhere.”

Shameless Pets’ dog treat products are currently sold at HEB, Meijer and pet specialty locations in the US, as well as online.

The startup has saved 25,000 lbs. of produce from waste streams and is on track to meet 150,000 lbs. by the end of 2020. Shameless Pets said it plans to continue developing new products and partnering with other companies to reduce food waste.

The most recent partnership the company has become involved in is with TERRA, a food and agriculture accelerator created by Rabobank to drive innovation in agricultural and food technology, the CPG industry and the modern supply chain.

Shameless Pets was selected by TERRA to work with the Australian Meat and Livestock Association to develop new opportunities for saving food ingredients from waste streams.

The startup was supported by several accelerator programs in 2019. It was one of five young pet industry companies to be recognized as a finalist for Nestlé Purina’s Pet Care Innovation Prize, participated in Mars’ second annual Leap Venture Studios’ program, and was part of FoodBytes! by Rabobank, a discovery platform for innovative food industry startups. It also participated in Factory LLC’s inaugural Pet Innovation Challenge, sponsored by Factory and New Hope Network.

Read more about product development, ingredients and formulation.